Leeuwenkuil is located along a route once used to herd cattle to the Cape. At popular nearby rest areas, the cattle could drink water from pools in the Mosselbank River. The now extinct Cape Lion roamed these parts and frequently, infamously, attacked the cattle – hence the name Leeuwenkuil – or “Lions’ Den”.
Leeuwenkuil originated from the Schinderkuil farm, owned in the late seventeenth century by Guillaume Heems. Heems bought and broke up old houses and ships, and there are still parts of the current house that come from a ship’s bow. In 1705, Arij van Wijk bought the farm and developed it, including the house’s A-shaped gable after the first letter of his first name. In 1800, Schinderkuil was sub-divided, and Leeuwenkuil was the result.
The farm was bought by John Frederick Dreyer in 1851, and it is still owned and farmed by the Dreyer family. Geographically, the Leeuwenkuil farm can be seen as a gateway to the Swartland. Known as the breadbasket of South Africa, the Swartland is characterized by mostly dry-land grape farming, which utilises no irrigation and leads to more intense and expressive wines. Three particular soil types make this area unique: Granite sands, Malmesbury shale and Table Mountain sandstone. This, combined with a predominantly Mediterranean climate – hot and dry – creates conditions under which specific cultivars thrive, and from which the uniquely South African Chenin Blanc-driven white blends and Syrah-driven red blends are derived.
The Dreyer family history dates back several centuries, beginning with John August Dreyer, who is reputed to have fled to the Cape from Germany under a pseudonym after killing a man in a fight over a woman. In 1716, he married Sara van Wijk – daughter of Arij, who owned Schinderkuil.
When John August’s descendant, John Frederick, bought Leeuwenkuil from the van Wijk family in1851, Leeuwenkuil became a well-known grain farm. Brothers Mike and Freddie Dreyer later shared the manor house and farmed together until 1963, when they sold it to their cousin, Willie Dreyer.
A quiet and hardworking man, Willie established Leeuwenkuil as a successful wine farm, known especially for its Pinotage grapes, and extended it with the purchase of a neighbouring farm. Willie died in 1978, leaving it to his son, also called Willie, who still owns and farms Leeuwenkuil with his wife and their five children.
“Having grown up on Leeuwenkuil, I have a strong affinity with the farm and a love for farming. More than a job, it is a hobby: unlike most people, my favourite day of the week is Monday. It is a privilege, too: to watch nature, witness the changing of the seasons, and retell stories I heard from older generations. And it is a responsibility:
I believe I am merely borrowing the land from my children.
– Willie Dreyer
“There’s so much to love about life on Leeuwenkuil. From the sound of everyone going off to harvest at 5:30 in the morning, to the noise of fifteen tired but happy men arriving for lunch and sharing their excitement over a good crop, to the evenings when Willie and I can enjoy a glass of wine together.
Every day brings something special.
– Emma Dreyer
Refined and racy with tropical fruit flavours of granadilla and guava. Good minerality leads to a fresh and long finish.
Aromas of black cherries, violets and clove spice. Opulent, ripe fruit on the palate with accessible and soft tannins
and a juicy finish.
Family Reserve White Blend
A blend of Chenin Blanc, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche and Verdelho. Attractive peach, citrus and melon notes on the nose. An elegant yet full-flavoured palate with a lingering aftertaste.
Family Reserve Red Blend
Blend of Shiraz, Cinsaut, Mourvedre and Grenache Noir. Aromas of dark berries, liquorice and spice on the nose. The palate is ripe and rewarding, structured tannins are complemented by hints of black pepper and spice on a lasting finish.